Fujifilm X-E2 Review
Controls and Customization
The X-E2 offers an iterative update of the control system previously used by the X-Pro1 and X-E1, with buttons on the back in all the same places, but their functions rearranged. Here we take a closer look at how this all works, and what's changed.
Anyone who thought that the X-M1 marked the beginning of the end for Fujifilm's 'traditional' control layout can breath easily again - the X-E2 continues to use analogue dials to change the major exposure parameters. Shutter speed and aperture dials are found on the camera's top plate, and most of Fujifilm's lenses have a physical aperture ring (which is unmarked on variable maximum aperture zooms). The 'XC' lenses don't have their own aperture rings; instead this is controlled using the electronic rear dial.
Separate AE-L and AF-L buttons
The X-E2 now has separate AE-L and AF-L buttons situated one above the other for control by your right thumb; they're different shapes and AE-L is slightly raised, making them distinguishable by touch alone. They behave much as you might expect; holding AE-L down locks the exposure, holding AF-L down locks focus. If you prefer them to operate as toggle (one press locks focus/exposure, another releases) then that can be configured in the menu (Shooting Menu 4: AE/AF Lock mode), with the setting affecting both together.
|The XE-2 has separate AF-L and AE-L buttons, rather than combining the two functions on one button.
If you don't like the separation of these functions, they can be recombined onto the AF-L button via a menu setting (Shooting Menu 4: AF Lock Mode). With the camera set to manual focus mode, the AF-L button can also be used to acquire AF, although with no explicit confirmation of correct focus in the viewfinder.
Four customizable buttons
The X-E1 originally had a single customizable Fn button beside the shutter release; the ability to use the 'down' key of the 4-way controller as another was added by a firmware update. The X-E2 expands on this by allowing customization of four of its buttons; as well as the top-plate Fn1 and Fn2 on the back, the AF and AE buttons can also be re-assigned in the menus (SET-UP 2: Function (Fn) Setting). By default Fn1 is set to ISO, and Fn 2 to white balance; the full list of available functions is as follows:
X-E2 function button options
| • Advanced Filter**
• Multiple Exposure**
• Preview Depth of Field***
• Image Size*
• Image Quality*
• Dynamic Range*
• Film Simulation*
| • White balance*
• Photometry (i.e. metering, AE)
• AF mode*
• Focus area
• Select Custom Setting*
• Aperture setting (for XC lenses)
• Wireless Communication
|*also accessible from Q menu
**also accessible from Drive button
***camera automatically stops up/down for DOF preview when shutter is half-pressed
Here we've highlighted functions which are already easily accessible via either the Drive button or the Q menu, and it quickly becomes apparent that this level of customization is almost superfluous, simply because the camera is already so well set up. But it does mean is that if you prefer having AF point selection where it used to be, you can simply assign it to Fn 2 and use the AF button for something else.
The Fn1 and Fn2 buttons can both be re-assigned quickly by holding them down for a couple of seconds, which brings up their respective function selection menus. It's worth noting that setting a Fn button to 'Movie' does not turn it into a 'Red button' that initiates recording. Instead it switches the camera to movie mode - recording is still started and stopped using the main shutter button.
The X-E2's drive mode menu has been rearranged; from here you can now access such things as Multiple Exposure and the 'Advanced Filter' processing options. If you shoot Raw the various JPEG-only bracketing options are hidden (ISO, Film Simulation and DR bracketing), but curiously the Advanced Filters are visible, and turn Raw recording off without warning.
|Still Image||n/a||Single shot mode|
|Continuous||High, Low||7 fps, 3 fps|
|AE BKT||+/-1, +/- 2/3, +/- 1/3|
|ISO BKT||+/-1, +/- 2/3, +/- 1/3||Only available when shooting JPEG|
|BKT||• Film simulation bracket
• DR bracket
|Only available when shooting JPEG|
|Advanced||• Motion Panorama
• Multiple Exposure
|- 2 angles (M, L), 4 directions
- Double exposure
|Advanced filter||Toy Camera, Miniature, Pop Color, High-Key, Low-Key, Dynamic Tone, Soft Focus, Partial Color||Partial Color has six options: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Purple.
Disables RAW recording.
|Movie||n/a||Still images can't be recorded|
A few more points are worth noting here. The X-E2's exposure bracketing options are still limited to a maximum of +/-1 EV, which isn't great if you like to use wide-range bracketing for High Dynamic Range shooting. The 3fps Continuous Low mode will show live view between frames, and attempt to refocus on moving subjects, but only if the camera is set to continuous focus mode (otherwise it just replays recently-taken shots, like the high speed mode). In Movie mode, recording is activated using the shutter release button, so you can't shoot stills at the same time.
Customizable Auto ISO
The X-E2 allows you to customise your Auto ISO parameters with minimum and maximum ISO limits and, crucially, a minimum shutter speed - something that X-Pro1 and X-E1 owners have been asking for since launch. Auto ISO is selectable from the main ISO menu (which by default is accessed from the top-plate Fn1 button), and when it's highlighted a press of the right key enters the customization menu. The camera offers the following options:
X-E2 Auto ISO options
|Default ISO (i.e. minimum)||200 - 6400 (1/3 stop increments)|
|Maximum ISO||400 - 6400 (1 stop increments)|
|Minimum shutter speed||1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/40, 1/60, 1/80, 1/100, 1/125,1,160, 1/200, 1/250, 1/320, 1/400, 1/500 sec|
One point worth noting here is that the X-E2 doesn't just allow you to select a minimum shutter speed - it forces you to select a single fixed speed, and unlike Nikon's recent SLRs, there's no 'Auto' option that takes the lens's focal length into account. This means that if you're shooting with a zoom like the excellent XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, or continually switching between primes, you have a choose a shutter speed which is appropriate for the longest focal length you're using. This in turn can mean the camera chooses ISOs higher than strictly necessary at shorter focal lengths. The fastest minimum speed of 1/500 sec is also a little slow to freeze action when using a log telephoto.
We're not going to complain too much though; we found Auto ISO previously always selected too-slow shutter speeds that risked image blur from camera shake, so this is definitely an improvement. But it could be better...
Although the X-E2 does allow the use of Auto ISO while in manual exposure mode, the exposure compensation dial is disabled, so you can't specify the image brightness you want.
The 3:2 aspect ratio of the X-E2's LCD means that its live view display have altered subtly. The main exposure parameters are now overlaid on a strip at the bottom of the image, and focus distance/depth of field scale has been made radically less obtrusive (it's now just a thin strip rather than a thick blue bar). But this also means it's less immediately-visible while shooting.
|This is the X-E2's live view display in detailed view. It's revised compared to the X-E1 - note the expanded exposure compensation scale, overlaid strip showing shutter speed, aperture and ISO, and much-slimmer distance / depth of field scale.|
|Half-press the shutter and the camera autofocuses - the AF area lights up green to confirm correct focus, and a green dot also appears lower left.
The camera also stops down the aperture to preview depth of field, and shows the focus distance and calculated depth of field on the scale (here just about visible at the 0.5m mark).
|As with the X-E1 the AF point can be moved around a 7x7 grid that covers almost the the entire frame. It's also possible to select from 5 AF area sizes from small to large, by spinning the rear dial (the one shown here is the default medium size).|